The News Rundown
- The Atlantic province of New Brunswick recently went to the polls on the 24th, to see if they wanted to re-elect incumbent Liberal Premier Brian Gallant's government, or if they wanted to try something different. And they definitely tried something different.
- The official results were Progressive Conservatives with 22 seats, the Liberals with 21, the Greens with 3, and the populist People's Alliance with 3 as well. As mathematics aficionados will spot, that means that the New Brunswick legislature, will end up as a minority government, either led by the Liberals, who must gain support from the Greens and the People's Alliance, or the Conservatives who have to gain support from either the Greens or the People's Alliance.
- Listeners might recall that this is a similar result to that of BC's election in May 2017, where neither the incumbent Liberals with 43 or NDP with 41 won a majority, and had to court the Greens with 3 to hold power. The NDP ended up taking power after forming an agreement with the Greens, in what was hailed as a "strong, stable minority".
- The minority in New Brunswick might be a little less strong and stable than that of BC, simply with the addition of another party in the mix. The People's Alliance is a fiscally conservative and populist party that first contested the 2010 New Brunswick election, but only received a few thousand votes and no seats, and much the same happened in 2014. However, in this election, they garnered almost 48 thousand votes, and 3 seats, including that of longtime leader Kris Austin.
- At the provincial level, New Brunswick is the only province that officially recognizes the equal status of French and English. One of the People's Alliance's most striking and controversial policies is their stance on bilingualism. From their website, the People's Alliance states that it is "based on the values of "conservatism, rural populism and opposition to some aspects of official bilingualism and duality." Their view of bilingualism, is that it's an unnecessary expense on taxpayers, and that the Official Commissioner of Languages should be abolished, and that the education and health systems are burdened by excess by having to comply with 2 separate systems, one for English and one for French. This has caused a stir in the province, with some calling the party "racist" towards the French speaking minority in the province.
- From a layman's standpoint, with just doing the math, it looks like the PCs should be able to govern with a minority with the PA's support. However, since it's early days, we still don't know what will happen, and the Liberals will still try to strike a deal to remain in power.
- It also comes down to possible recounts that could shift the electoral result. An automatic recount is triggered if a riding is won by 25 votes or less. Saint John Harbour, was won by Liberal candidate Gerry Lowe by 10 votes, and the Greens' win in Memramcook-Tantramar was decided by 11 votes. Parties can make a case for a recount if it's not triggered automatically. There are three other ridings that were decided by fewer than 100 votes.
- The media has been losing itself trying to figure out who will form government. It spoils their easy narratives of a party "winning" the election.
- The CBC had the most tough time with this. CBC election result page: "Liberal Leader Brian Gallant says he plans to form a government despite winning one fewer seat than the Progressive Conservatives. The Tories end up with a one-seat win."
- First of all, if it's a minority situation, no party comes out of it with a "win". Also, boldly claiming that the PCs were the ones to win is jumping the gun.
- Just an hour before recording time, the People's Alliance have agreed to support a PC minority on a bill by bill basis. So really, the result will come down to how PC leader Blaine Higgs and Liberal leader Brian Gallant negotiate with the other parties.
- So what does this mean federally? Well, if Gallant loses, it's another blow to Justin Trudeau's national carbon tax strategy. With more and more provinces being against it, and with Quebec's election happening in just a few days that could see the incumbent Liberals lose there as well, it throws the whole plan into uncertainty.
- Grande Cache is located roughly 435km west of Edmonton and sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
- Grand Cache was created as a town in 1966 with construction beginning in 1969. By 1971 the town had its first homes, a school, and hospital built.
- The town was built and saw success centred around the coal industry.
- Former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice grew up in Grande Cache and considered Grande Cache to be his hometown.
- The Town of Grande Cache said 1,097 valid ballots were received and a near unanimous vote of 1,065 people voted to dissolve.
- Mayor Herb Castle said, “This decision has not come lightly to our community and I commend our public, town council, the Greenview council, Municipal Affairs and CAO Haugen with the MD of Greenview and our CAO Ms. Thompson for all the attention, thought and effort that has gone into this process.”
- The population fell to 3,571 in 2017 from 4,319 in 2012.
- The drop in population caused house prices to drop, this in turn caused the tax base to be lowered to the point there wasn’t enough money flowing to maintain vital infrastructure services.
- The town will become a part of the Municipal District of Greenview No. 16.
- The NDP government made the commitment to remove all coal pollution by 2030. This includes having 30% of all electricity be renewable, allowing coal units to convert to natural gas where viable, and creating a new market for private investment in natural gas, cogeneration, or other technology.
- The government has committed to a transition requiring $20-$30b in new investment plus numerous programs to aid workers in finding new jobs, moving on to retirement, retraining, or re-locating.
- Combined with the downturn in the energy industry and the coal phase out, the collapse of Grande Cache was going to happen.
- Media angle.
- World demand: China. China’s coal imports rose 49% from July 2017 to July 2018. This puts China having their highest amount of coal imports in the last 4.5 years. In June 2018, China imported 29 million tonnes.
- China will buy our coal.
- The newest minister to Justin Trudeau's cabinet has faced some growing pains, early on in his mandate as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction. The rookie MP from Scarborough West and Toronto's former police chief has had to tackle a pretty big file that doesn't appear to have much support from his own leader, namely that of the illegal border crossers streaming across the border from the US.
- In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Blair was asked about how the government has been working to deal with the surge of more than 32,000 migrants who have walked across the border over the last year and a half to make asylum claims in Canada.
- He was also asked whether the government knows where all of the people who have crossed into the country are, given that statistics shared by officials two weeks ago suggest only a couple hundred have actually been deported.
- Bill Blair's response: "I will tell you that we did experience a surge of people last year. We found a very small percentage of them were actually eligible to stay, and the overwhelming majority of those people have left."
- The number reported by the Toronto Star on Sept. 8, cites Canada Border Services Agency statistics that only 398 of the 32,173 people who crossed the U.S. border irregularly into Canada between April 2017 and August 2018, had actually been deported. Of those, the report states 146 were sent back to the U.S., of which 116 had U.S. citizenship. The rest were deported to Haiti, Colombia, Turkey and Iraq.
- The numbers, tabled recently in the House of Commons, show nearly 900 irregular migrants intercepted by the Mounties in Canada since April 2017 were already under removal orders issued by American authorities. As of late June, only six of these people had been removed from Canada.
- Blair issued an apology Monday afternoon, saying he “clearly misspoke” when he said the majority of asylum seekers have left the country.
- “They have not. They await disposition of their claim. Sorry for the obvious confusion that I caused,” he said.
- Later, he explained to reporters that he was trying to explain a different point, but that he “did so inadequately” and immediately took steps to clarify his remarks and apologize, first in a tweet on Sunday and later in the formal statement issued Monday afternoon.
- As for why the number of removals remains so low, Blair explained that border officials can only remove failed refugee claimants after they have exhausted all legal options available to try for refugee status. These options include applications to the Immigration and Refugee Board, appeals and other administrative measures.
- Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel says she believes the numbers suggest Canada’s asylum system is being heavily backlogged by people who are not legitimate refugees.
- The extensive processing backlog that exists for refugee claims is creating an incentive for people looking to take advantage of Canada’s refugee system, knowing they could face wait an average of 20 months before their refugee claims are processed, Rempel says.
- Rempel said: “In a properly functioning asylum system, we should be prioritizing the world’s most vulnerable, we should be processing asylum claims quickly and then removing people who don’t have a legal reason to be in Canada. The fact that even those that have been processed and don’t have a valid reason to be in Canada have not been removed is something that is concerning, because Canadians are footing the bill for them being in Canada.”
- Perhaps Bill Blair has too much on his plate. He's also the government's point man on the handgun debate, and in charge of trying to halt a rise in gun violence and organized crime in Toronto (as well as the rest of the country, like Surrey, which has its own crime problems) and he's also in charge of negotiating with the US on the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The Firing Line
- In one of Trump’s presidential press conferences he was asked about Canada, he said that he rejected a meeting with Canada but the Canadian officials said a meeting was requested.
- This response came straight from the Prime Minister’s Office.
- This comes as the self imposed NAFTA deadline of October 1 comes closer.
- Trump was brutally honest when it comes to Canada, saying: "His tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada. We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”
- “Their representative”
- The threat and why it’s real.
- Dairy tariffs and chapter 19 dispute resolution.
- Accepting the PMO at face value in the media.
- We may learn what the deal contains at some point this weekend but by recording time, those details were unavailable.
- Media framing: Bad deal, chapter 19, dairy, and national security termination.
- In the Toronto Star: “A trade pact that can be upended on the whim of the U.S. president is of no use to Canada. It provides no certainty for those Canadian businesses that hope to export tariff-free to the U.S. It provides no certainty for those who might invest in Canada. To its credit, the Canadian government is now acknowledging this publicly. If Ottawa can’t persuade Trump to exempt Canada from the national security loophole, it’s time to end the charade. It’s time to walk away from these talks.”
- The media is already planning for failure of negotiations and what the narrative will be.
Word of the Week
Winning - gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Winners and Losers
Teaser: Uncertainty in New Brunswick after an election results in a minority, Grande Cache, Alberta votes to dissolve the town, and the federal government can’t do basic math on illegal migrant numbers. Also, we might be coming to an end on the NAFTA debacle.
Recorded Date: September 28, 2018
Release Date: September 30, 2018
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes